Thursday, May 14, 2009

Epitomizing on bus tickets

How much a bus ticket could tell you about the city you are living in? Probably a lot, probably nothing.

I have used public bus service in a number of cities in India: Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Alleppey. If you generally ask people who have traveled in buses in Pune and Mumbai, most of them will say that the bus service in Pune is nothing but shitty and B.E.S.T of Mumbai is the best service you will ever find in India. To a large extent I too agree with this point. Lately, I have also used ACT bus service in Canberra. For most of my life I have lived in Pune and have commuted in the PMT on a day-to-day basis. In Canberra, I mostly cycle, but had to use bus for some long distance needs.

Two incidences regarding strikingly different ticketing experience with PMT and ACT bus services is what made me write this post.

Back in India, when I needed to go to Pune University (where I was studying), I needed to hop three buses. One from Viman Nagar (where I live) to Pune station, from Pune station to Corporation or Shivajinagar, and from there to University. Pain, but had no other direct option, though this has improved now with merger of PMT (Pune) and PCMT (Pimpri). I would usually be going to Corporation instead of Shivajinagar as it is less crowed there. In all, it would cost me 18 Rs for one way trip. But one fine day I reached University by spending mere 13 Rs. It so happened that the bus from station to Shivajinar was very crowded. And I did not have 5 Rs change with me, so I gave a 10 Rs note to the conductor. Out of no reason the conductor was very pissed of with me and repeatedly refused to take the note and give me a ticket. I had no other option but to keep insisting that I *really* do not have change with me. Finally the conductor was so pissed off that he made me get down the bus one stop before the final stand, fearing that there would be ticket checker on the main stop and he would have to answer all my complains of him! Fortunately this stand is just half a minute walk from the main stand. In essence I did not pay the ticket for this route at all .. and it was *obviously* not my fault!

That day I reached University by just spending 13 Rs as bus fare! Though my initial feeling was not good, in the end it was all smiles for saving those precious 5 Rs ;-)

This was nearly a year ago, but had preserved the tickets for my rememberence.

Today, in Canberra, I had to take a bus to a place called Woden that is about 16Km from City. Normally I would either take an Adult transfer ticket or a Shoppers off-peak ticket (which allows for two way travel at concessional rates). But today while boarding the bus, the driver asked me to just get in, saying that the ticket machine is out of order! I said wow free journey :) But while coming back I was completely blown over, when I was last in the queue to get in the bus and the driver just asked me to get in and did not take a ticket! One whole round trip journey ... free! I just felt so good about the ACT drivers, I must say... and felt that the PMT conductor could have been much more considerate towards me.

Its not so important that I got a free journey or that I saved a couple of bucks that really made me happy. What made me feel more comfortable was the way a not so good situtation was handled by people who "manage" a public resource like transportation. Its not that PMT is all that bad, I know couple of very good conductors who can manage a fully crowded bus with a smile on their face. It is just that you meet some of those not so good once; quite often.

.. in the end as they say a "punekar" will always say that the best city in the world is ... ;-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008


B. R. Chopra and Michael Crichton, one wonderful Indian film maker and another equally enchanting American writer and film maker passed away recently.

B. R. Chopra was a legendary film maker, but his TV remake of the epic Mahabharata is what I remember him for most. That epic, when it was being aired on Doordarshan, made the whole India stop and watch it for an hour, every Sunday. Probably, nothing as enthralling and astounding epic remake was ever made or would ever be made.

Michael Crichton, a medical doctor by training, but more famous for his sci-fi novel, Jurassic Park (which also got translated into a highly successful Hollywood movie) was more known to me from his equally profound, though provoking and fast phased sci-fi : Prey. Before I read, Prey, I hardly ever liked sci-fi, leave alone novels. But Crichton's writing style, packed with heavy references and recent research work, made me truly love sci-fi. And when it came from Crichton, it had an authenticity and scientific soundness which is very difficult to find otherwise.

People, like these, create nations without borders and put Humanity before any thing.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This way that way

A number of incidences have happened after I started this blog. Some interesting, others more disturbing. While there has been a healthy debate in and outside the Indian parliament on the 1-2-3 nuclear agreement with US, there has been concerns raised about early exit the government, And funnily there were reports that indicated that the government wanted to discuss the issue of Sarchar committee report before it discusses N-Deal, apparently to make sure of some minority votes in case of early elections!!

On the backdrop of this interesting debate came the heartening news of twin bomb blasts in the city of Hyderabad in what was quite a fine weekend. Just makes me wonder how vulnerable are we to negative forces around us. Are our foundations not so strong enough to bring positive influence to these negative minds?

Or we rely too much on our past and do not think that we need to improve? We think that all is "good enough" with us. As they say in the OS market, Windows XP is "good enough", why we need Vista? Out of topic exemplar, but I think it brings out the point more clearly here.

Another issue that has been around for some time has been the issue of cast based reservation in India. Even after 60 years of independence, and declaring our country as a sovereign, democratic republic, if we have failed to eradicate caste based tactics (which sadly I hold nearly equivalent to Apartheid, though technically not as there is no place for slavery in a caste order), I have only one recommendation: All politicians must resign!

With all this compelling and confusing issues one begins to think as to where are well all headed? Are we loosing out identity? Loosing out identity can be good and bad. But not at the same time. It can be bad if some one is overtaking you and wipes out the very idea you exist. Wipes out the ideas, relations and the goodness you cherish for. Suppress you and you soul. Exactly in the way cast based hypocrisy or apartheid works. It spoils the humanness in Humans. It makes you closer to a devil than god.

On the other hand, loosing identity can be good too. If it brings out the oneness in each of us. Makes us all think that we all are relatives. Makes us share our fruits with others. And when others respond and change their attitude towards life and towards you. If nation states are bound to loose their boundary walls because people simply have lost their "identity", the ego.

I would love to see this "good" identify loss. Will the people around the world stand up and unite for this new world order?
Only time will tell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

With a view towards Nations without boundaries

"Long ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes very rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the spirit of a nation long suppressed finds utterance ..."

So were the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that dawned a new era in this world. The time when about one-third of human race of the world were liberated from the clutches of two centuries of "foreign" rule. Sixty years later, this very sub-continent and particularly India is a major economic power in the world largely fueled by the heavy demand for its "soft" skills. Thomas L. Friedman perfectly and boldly brings up the current scenario of the world in his much cavorted book "The World is Flat". Things have so dramatically changed in the past sixty years that today most of the part of the world is accessible to a "digitally enabled" common person via the ever expanding power and reach of communication and information technology. Of course technology and science progresses hand in hand and no one can be credited more than the other, we simply can not leave one and work with other.
Leaving aside the talks on science and technology to a later day, what eventually led me to start this blog is a inner feeling that some how some thing is missing... we are not one, even if we are humans, Homo sapiens.

My resolution through this blog is to cherish the idea of oneness among us. The oneness that is epitomized in "Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam", that the whole world is my family. To cherish the idea of sharing, helping and moving along. To cherish the idea that if I do good We to do good. To accept if I have done a fault rather than look at others and find their faults and wonder why no one takes action against them? To think about a new world that is not only flat but is free of any boundaries and borders. Can we start an new revolution that leads to this new world? A lovely world with tranquility and peace every where. A world where there is free movement of people and thought. A world without suppression and oppression. A world that is rich, rich in thoughts, rich in materials and rich in spirituality. A world that shares and cares for. One world.

With over sixty percent of Indian population being young and possibly enlightened I surely see a hope in a revolution culminating in a world of people and not nations.